For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (II Chronicles 16:9)
God’s silence can be a startling experience. Have you been there? I sure have. Many, many times.
It can be lonely. Confusing. Scary.
God has a purpose in every single thing He does. He’s always got The Big Plan in mind with every move He makes. So, whether moving or still, speaking or silent, God’s working out His plan and purpose. Always. And that plan and purpose always has to do with
the transformation of the human heart.
The heart of the wicked.
The heart of the spiritually indifferent.
The heart of the ignorant.
The heart of the seeking.
The heart of the drifting.
The heart of the tempted.
The heart of the hurting.
The heart of the faithful.
The heart of the beloved.
Your neighbor’s heart and the heart of the guy on the other side of the world.
That’s God’s main purpose…transformation of the human heart into the image of Jesus Christ. In all things God says and does, His ultimate goal is to save, heal and transform the heart.
So it should be no surprise that when God is silent, it is often because of a faulty heart-condition:
1. An Unforgiving/Unmerciful Heart–“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Jesus spoke this truth in the context of prayer, immediately after He taught the disciples The Lord’s Prayer. It’s a tough one to swallow, is it not? In case you are wondering if Jesus REALLY meant He would withhold forgiveness (or an answer to prayer) when we fail to forgive others, take a look at this parable.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)
Can you say, “Gulp”???????
2. An Inconsiderate/Disrespectful Heart–“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (I Peter 3:7)
Man, oh, man! Give this girl a minute to go and apologize to her hubby for–uh, like every ugly tone she’s taken with him for the last 15 years!!!! This is a biggie for me. When Heaven becomes silent, one of the first places I examine is how I’ve been treating Jon. I know technically it says this is for “husbands,” but a bad heart is a bad heart, no matter what the gender.
3. A Quarrelsome/Covetous Heart “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:1-3)
Did you ever realize your ability to hear from God was so closely affiliated with how you treat people? As a new Christian, I totally missed that. My desire to win the world over to Christianity eclipsed my sense to be nice to people. I would get into these major knock-down drag-out theological debates on my college campus (in all my 18-year-old-wisdom) and wonder why it was so hard to hear God speak to me when I prayed. Ugghhh…I wish I could go back to every single person I tried to “witness to” so I could apologize and request a do-over.
Not only then, but I really need to watch how I treat people today. The rude lady at the cash register who doesn’t acknowledge my existence; the crazy guy who cuts me off in traffic and nearly causes me to wreck while I’ve got three little kids in my car; and the three little kids in the car who continue to whine, beg, throw tantrums and bicker…Some times I just need to go back, apologize and request a do-over. Not because they deserve it, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s like Jesus.
And what about all the times you’ve asked God for good things, truly good things–(the promotion, the pay increase, the guy or the girl of your dreams, the house, the car, the this, the that)–only to hear absolutely nothing from Heaven? Self-examination can be difficult, especially when you are trying to discern your own motives. But if God seems silent or distant, this would be a great place to linger in your prayer time.
Did you know God really loves a merry heart?
Well…to help your heart get all merry-like, I had to post these pictures of Jon and me. We went to a 70’s party Friday night, and it was super groovy. I seriously laughed so hard, my throat hurt on Saturday morning.
Don’t I look like Jan Brady?
Play that funky music, white boy!!! (I sang that in karaoke and won a can of Spam as a prize!)
Have a great week everyone! And if I don’t talk to you before, see you on Friday for our new feature “Fitness Fridays” where we will talk about the fitness program I’m currently doing.